At what point in pregnancy does a woman begin to feel “close” to the end? I imagine that for each of us, close is relative and thereby different. If you’ve had babies born “early” (done that, but not full-on premie status) or if you’ve had babies born “late” (done that, too), your perception of the third trimester may vary greatly from that of the average 40-week gestation. But that’s just it – 40 weeks is an average, so why do we get hung up on a particular ETA known as the due date?
Perhaps because waiting is hard? I mean, just ask my kids. We count everything from sleeps to minutes sometimes to help them understand how much time must pass before the next fill-in-the-blank (show, snack, trip to Grandma’s, etc.). So you add in anticipating a huge change, like a whole new person’s arrival in this world, and the waiting can feel like forever.
In addition to 40 weeks being a really, really long time (and not just for our Littles), there are so many unknowns connected to awaiting Baby’s birth. Depending on how extensively you choose to test or not during gestation, you may not know much beyond how much weight you have gained or how your fundus is measuring; this can make the wait all the more challenging because until Baby is actually born, you won’t be able to answer any of those questions floating through your brain at all hours of the day (and night).
As I draw close(r) to the 40-week mark with my fourth, I find myself pushing back at these questions constantly. And they aren’t just internal, either. With the weeks ticking by, I am getting asked more and more if I am ready and I find that my answers are beginning to feel increasingly subjective. Just like the due date determination, which can give or take quite a lot of wiggle room, the term ready, to me, is ever-changing.
Am I ready to meet this new person? Yes, please, very much so. To know gender, count fingers and toes, pick a name, and hold close another wiggle worm (based on current belly movements)…for all this I am most ready. To know that our hopes and prayers for a healthy baby have been answered? Yes, please and thank you, very much so. However, if I have learned anything in my mamahood, it is that ready or not, Baby-in-the-belly or Baby-outside-the-belly, life with Littles is a whole lot like trying to find sure footing as you navigate unfamiliar woods.
And while I know both seasons and phases pass, I do not believe parents ever actually make it through these woods or know just how to be ready for what is next because the darn woods just keep changing.
Life is the woods; it always will be.
Now a constant state of flux comes with certain challenges, but life in/as the woods is not all dark and scary. Much of a forest is full of light, sound, and joy; there are many paths to explore and a never-ending list of lessons to learn. Of course we hope that with time and experience we improve at navigating the woods as we go, but both as parents and humans in general, so much about this life will forever remain outside of our control, which in turn leaves us unpaired despite our best efforts. So perhaps “ready” doesn’t mean as much as we would like to think, anyway.
Expanding a family, raising a child, growing yourself – all of these are endeavors that take a great deal of faith and trust. Faith that we will find sure footing (eventually, at some point) and trust that our hearts will stay strong, open, and full of love until and as we do, ready or not.